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. Major powers postpone consultations over Iran sanctions: US
WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (AFP) Dec 18, 2007
The major powers debating a draft resolution for tougher sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear program postponed consultations they had planned for Tuesday, the US State Department said.

"It's been postponed for scheduling issues. They'll get together later in the week," Tom Casey, a spokesman at the State Department, told AFP.

The United States has been involved in protracted negotiations with Russia, China, Britain and France -- the five permanent UN Security Council members, or P5, that all have veto power -- and Germany.

Washington is promoting a two-track strategy aimed at offering Iran a dialogue that would give it economic benefits if it stops enriching uranium, or at threatening a third round of punitive sanctions.

Casey said Monday that the political directors of the State Department and the foreign ministries of the five other countries had planned to hold a conference call early Tuesday.

Casey said the six powers would now consult later in the week, but had not decided yet on a particular day or time. "They're still trying to work it out."

The political directors of the six countries held a 90-minute conference call on December 11 about Iran's nuclear program, but did not finalize a draft sanctions resolution.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted afterward that the United States has "tactical differences" with Russia and China about the "timing, about the nature of any further sanctions."

But she said that "the two-track strategy remains in place," when asked if the National Intelligence Estimate, published December 3, undercut the US drive for sanctions.

The report said Iran had stopped an alleged covert nuclear weapons program in 2003. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

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